A Global Tour d
20th Annual Plenary Session
Opening Ceremony, 8 June 2002
By Helmut Schmidt, Honorary Chairman
Let me start out by devoting two minutes to a purely artificial, theoretical scenario. Let us imagine that some foreign terrorists abduct two fully occupied wide-body-passenger aircraft and crash them into the banking center in Frankfurt and into the Parliament building in Berlin, thereby killing a thousand people. What in such case would be the psychological and political reaction in the German nation? Or if it happened in Paris and destroyed Tour d'Eiffel - or in London White Hall? Or in Tokyo or in Beijing? Or in Moscow? Or in Cairo or Mecca or Islamabad? Or in Lagos/Nigeria or in Rio de Janeiro? What in such theoretical case would be the reactions in those nations? And what would the respective governments do?
Once we try to imagine the impact of such a colossal crime on any of our own nations and try to imagine the reactions of our own governments, we will probably derive some understanding for the American nation's psychological and domestic political situation, which obviously does at present dominate the American foreign policy.
The strategies of the United States are criticized by quite a few (and I for one am among the critics). But among my worries, there is also the concern that quite many people (and many Muslims in particular) are criticizing America blindfoldedly but nevertheless harshly. They are thereby contributing to the possibility of a so-called "clash of civilizations."
One cannot categorically exclude the globally dangerous possibility of such general clash, which is as well enhanced by quite a few Westerners and western mass media. One cannot exclude the possibility that such impact might cause a considerable negative change in the global political situation. Obviously all governments concerned are aware of the thinkable eventualities. In so far the global situation already has changed quite a bit.
But the job of a "global tour d'horizon," which the two chairmen of our council have imposed on me, ought not to exclusively concentrate on the consequences of September 11th last year, however grave they may turn out to be. Instead, I will try to sketch out some of the other present factors which foreseeably will have a heavy bearing on global developments over the next one or two decades. Of course, I am speaking on an exclusively personal basis and on nobody else's behalf.
1) At first, there is the present population explosion in Asia, Africa and Latin America, which has no precedent in the 19th or any earlier century. One hundred years ago, we numbered 1 1/2 billion human beings; we have since quadrupled our numbers up to more than 6 billion. And within a few decades, we will reach 9 billion. Already today, there is only one quarter of the space left, that had been available per person a hundred years ago. The space per person will shrink further and the growing density of population in those three continents will make the maintenance of social order, justice and peace ever more difficult.
2) Secondly, global warming will continue. The factor role of our burning coal, petrol and gas is indisputable; but as yet it is not quantity-wise calculable. Our globe has seen ice-periods and warm periods since millions of year. We do not as yet have reliable forecasts as to the climatic and physical living conditions in various parts of the globe. But we do know that they will change. We do know for example, that the level of the oceans will rise and will force millions of humans to move who today live only a few feet above sea levels.
3) Population explosion plus climatic changes, the shrinking of space on earth, will cause many more conflicts and wars - inside of states and between states in Africa and Asia, possibly also in Latin America. They will result in growing numbers of people killed and in growing pressure of migration. We have been witnessing the gruesome examples in Rwanda, in Somalia and in other African countries, in Southwest Asia, also in the Middle East. In almost all such conflicts, ethnic and religious, and also ideological factors do and will play an instigating role.
Most of the attempts to quell these armed conflicts by military intervention from the outside will, at best, have a temporary effect - like the militarily underpinned western protectorates on the Balkan peninsula - but they cannot of course eliminate the underlying causes.
In regard of the underlying cause of globally too high birthrates, one could theoretically dampen the population explosion. But with the noteworthy exception of China and India, most governments do not pay much attention to that. The same goes for most spiritual leaders of the great religions of Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and Judaism. The same is true, more or less, of all Official Development Assistance (ODA), whether by donor states or by the World Bank.
In regard of the underlying cause of global warming, we cannot influence the physics of the earth; but we can diminish our additive human contribution to the foreseen greenhouse effect. Also in this field at present the perspectives are globally not encouraging, due to the recent repudiation of the Kyoto Protocol by Washington.
4) A global tour d'horizon must of course take account of the presently ongoing so-called economic globalization. It is, in a way, a misleading term and concept, because worldwide trade has been a part of human civilization already since centuries. The same goes of course for worldwide traffic - since the Chinese and the Arabs sailed across the Pacific and the Indian Ocean and since the Europeans sailed across the Atlantic and into the Pacific.
What is really new? New is the number of participants. During the last two decades, the number of those human beings has almost doubled, whose lives are, directly or indirectly, under strong influence of the global markets - in the main due to the opening of China and of almost 30 states which hitherto had been dominated by the Soviet Union and thereby closed off from the worldwide economy. Altogether a quantum leap.
5) On top of that we are witnessing at least four major qualitative leaps. Satellites, computers, television and internet have brought about a globalization of instantaneous information (and also some disinformation). Secondly, this has led to the globalization of almost all technologies. Most advanced scientific and technological know-how nowadays is available all over the world. Thirdly, at the same time, instantaneous information plus a rather rapid process of financial liberalization in many countries has led to a globalization of financial markets, including very short-term capital.
As a consequence of these three qualitative cataracts, a quickly growing number of private enterprises and corporations in the industries of banking, of information and of manufacturing, but also in commerce have globalized their activities, including the spreading of a rather ruthless and extremely greedy capitalist ideology. This qualitative phenomenon No. 4 is inviting the criticisms of the anti-globalization movement and its transnational non-governmental organizations. The NGOs do have a point here, although they are not capable to offer recipes for a cure.
6) When we ask ourselves: "Who is winning under globalization and who is losing?" the answer is threefold.
The winners so far are almost all of the highly developed industrialized countries and their population, certainly including the United States, Canada, the European Union, Japan and Australia. By the way, the rather high rates of unemployment in Europe and also the growing unemployment in Japan do have nothing to do with globalization, they are in the main home-made.
Among the developing countries mainly those are the winners, who have been or still are being governed by economically enlightened governments, but governed in a strictly authoritarian way. China is the outstanding example, also a few of the smaller oil-exporting countries. One might as well point to the formerly so-called four little tigers: Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea, all of which do not any longer fit into the category of developing countries. They have done well for their masses.
On the other hand, a great number of developing countries, trying to establish democracy, are failing socioeconomically - and therefore in many cases politically as well. In my view, it is a shameful mistake to urge them to open their borders for the import of manufactured goods whilst withholding the chances to export their agricultural products. The United States, the European Union and as well Japan still today are very egoistic sinners. They preach free trade but they never so far are obeying their own sermon, instead they are indulging deeply as ever before in protecting their own farmers, steel makers and so on. On top of that, many developing countries have been persuaded to open their economies for foreign short-term credits and short-term money, to liberalize their current account, thereby open their country for all kinds of speculations from the outside and also getting deeply into foreign indebtedness.
7) The Southeast Asian credit and currency crisis five years ago should have taught a lesson - also for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Most of their rescue operations - from Indonesia to Mexico, including even Russia! - have to a lesser degree bailed out the recipient developing countries but to a greater degree they have benefitted private western financial institutes, which thereby received the backlog of interests due and of dividends and got most of their money back.
There is a parallel between NATO and the IMF: Since the Soviet threat has disappeared a decade ago, NATO is searching for a new enemy. Likewise the IMF. Since the Bretton Woods system of fixed parities between currencies was abandoned three decades ago, the IMF has searched for a new mission, digressing deeply into the socioeconomic policies of sovereign states and as well into the field of the World Bank.
It seems about time to redefine the tasks of the IMF (and for that purpose, it would be helpful if the 12 states of Euro-land would bundle their shares and their voting rights in the IMF, because the influence of the largest shareholder hitherto has been far too big). The enormous current volume of transnational flows of capital and of money, the wave of psychotic speculationism, the spreading of the ridiculous ideology of "shareholder value" plus the manifold fraudulent manipulations to boost share prices, also the mergermania in the fields of private financial institutes, all that calls for better surveillance and regulation.
It might be a good idea to give the IMF the major mission to develop a new concept for fair order and stability in the globalized financial markets. Almost all of our states and economies do need better and internationally compatible standards for financial systems, for regulations and surveillance, and compatible codes for banks, fonds, insurances etc. The IMF ought not to be regarded as an ever ready lender of last resort all over the globe. Instead, its major role should be in monitoring, in providing transparency and in stabilizing the globalized financial markets. It is my impression that the present management of the IMF is indeed moving in that direction.
8) Before I leave the financial field, I do have to mention the fact that the two largest economies are not in good financial shape. The United States are sucking in foreign capital in the order of about $400 to 500 billion every year; that is the net amount by which capital imports overshoot American capital exports. Or in other words: The annual deficit in the American current account steadily increases the foreign indebtedness of the American economy. Or in yet other words, in the order of $400 to 500 billion annually, the impressive growth rates of the American economy are financed by foreigners; this capital, owned by foreigners, is not available for their domestic economy. At present, this situation is a great advantage for America; but it implies some dangers, for example, a threat to future dollar exchange rates and thereby to stable global currency relations and to the stability of all globalized financial markets.
The case of Japan is quite different. Japan is the greatest net exporter of capital. But the Japanese banking system is in a shaky situation. And the domestic debt of the government has reached such high a volume that - if Japan was a European country - Japan could not be admitted to participation in the common European currency.
In about three decades' time China will have reached a share in global trade that meets the order of magnitude of the share of foreign trade of the European Union or of the United States. By that time, we will have three world currencies: The American Dollar, the Euro and the Chinese Yuan. There might then evolve sort of a triangular equilibrium. But for the time being, the looming volatility of the Dollar does require attention. Both the American and the Japanese governments are not only burdened with financial responsibility vis-a-vis their own nation and economy but as well vis-´-vis the global economy.
9) Regarding the World Bank and Official Development Assistance (ODA) as a whole, financial transfers alone will never overcome poverty and misery in great parts of Africa, also in parts of Latin America and Asia, except under two conditions: Only if the governments make planned parenthood practicable - by enhancing the status of women and the education of girls, by making condoms and the pill available and so forth. Otherwise the growth of population in many places is outpacing the growth of the gross economic product. Particularly the standard of living of the masses will not essentially be improved in such areas. Most politicians in developing countries and also the spiritual leaders of the world's religions still do refuse to understand and accept that inevitability.
The other condition is the reduction of military expenditure. In many poor developing countries, the military's share of GNP is six, seven or even 10 times greater than the total amount of ODA, that the country does receive. And in quite a few cases, parts of the received development aid are only a disguise for financing of the purchase of weapons from the donor country. There still is a lot of idealism on the side of many donor countries but also a lot of interference and selfish meddling.
There is a lot of energy on the side of leaders and politicians in the developing world. For them to overcome mass poverty, the need for sound economic and social concepts and activities is much more urgent than the effort to create a liberal democracy.
The recently defined goal of the UN, within the next 12 years to cut the percentage of mankind which lives in absolute poverty down to one half appears to me as a wishful declamation.
10) All over the globe, including the developing countries, the emphasis of most governments on strong military capabilities is still uninterrupted, despite the end of the Cold War. Arms trade and traffic, the proliferation of conventional means of warfare, particularly of small firearms all over the globe, is going on as ever before. It is today easier than ever for organized terrorism and for organized crime to get hold of almost any kind of weapons.
It is true that we have seen reductions of forces and weapons in most parts of Europe and in Russia - in most cases to the dismay of the respective military and of their defense ministers. It is also true that a fortnight ago, at long last, Presidents Bush and Putin have to some degree lived up to their obligations under the Non-proliferation-Treaty, which so far and since three decades their predecessors had neglected, by agreeing to dismantle (not to destroy!) several thousands of their superfluous nuclear weapons. This agreement has more of a psychological than of factual importance.
But then, the acute conflict in Kashmir reminds us of the fact that both India and Pakistan do possess rockets with nuclear warheads. One can only hope that outside mediation - possibly by Moscow and Beijing, despite their failure a few days ago, or by Washington - will help to dampen the danger. And the fear!
The tensions across the Taiwan Strait recently appear to have mellowed somewhat, due to prudence on either side. The East Timor conflict appears to be solved for the time being. The danger of North Korea provoking a war does appear to me to have been overemphasized by Washington. Pyongyang does make threatening gestures from time to time, but quite obviously this utterly poor country has nothing to gain by war; the assistance by the Soviet Union has ended and the assistance by China is not much more than nominal.
By the way, only a few people outside the United States do accept the wisdom of the phrase of an "axis of evil," reaching from North Korea via Iran to Iraq. The three of them have little in common and have almost no connection between them.
11) Apart from Kashmir, the greatest dangers of war appear presently in the Middle East. The conflict between Israel and her immediate neighbors in Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria, with terrorist activities on all sides, has dangerously escalated in recent months. It can eventually burst into open warfare. Already since years is it fuelling anger and emotions in Israel and in many Arab countries, particularly among the younger generations. They understandably resent the Israelian forces of occupation on the West Bank and in Gaza. And quite a few want to totally eliminate the State of Israel.
Of course, Israel does rely on the backing of the United States. The U.S. has friendly relations with Israel and as well with Saudi Arabia and Egypt and some other Arab states. Therefore and also due to the American military and technological and financial leverage, Washington is in a unique position to mediate. But since decades, American policies in the Middle East are not very consistent, nor are they rigorous. The repetition of public threats against Iraq in the American media and the quest for a removal of Saddam by military force is not helpful either - except for the motivation of Islamic extremists and terrorists.
12) It is noteworthy that the former war against Iraq, called Desert Storm, had been triggered by Saddam's attempt to conquer a neighboring sovereign state, and that the war was authorized by a valid decision of the UN Security Council. Also the war in Afghanistan against Al Qaeda and their wilful Taliban-hosts is based on a Security Council decision.
But on the other hand, the military intervention in Kosovo by NATO and the United States and the bombing of Belgrade was a clear violation of the UN's Charter. Such violation should not be repeated. The UN Charter permits the use of military force against another state in case of self-defense against attack - and otherwise only and exclusively in case of a valid decision by the Security Council.
After all it is the UN and its Charter on which the rule of law in interstate conflicts is based - the world has no other globally binding constitution. Kosovo/Serbia was a dangerous precedent; it must never be repeated.
13) Under this aspect the term "war against terrorism" can be misinterpreted. We will probably come back to that, when we will discuss tomorrow the subject of humanitarian interventions and international law.
Murder and other violent acts of terrorism for political purposes have been with us since millenniums. Terrorism has been carried out by legitimate princes or by their opponents, by tyrants and dictators, by guerillas and partisans, also by commanders of regular troops, by occupational forces as well as by resistance fighters against them, by revolutionaries and by suppressed minorities. Presently we are witness to several transnational terrorist activities across borders of sovereign states, from Manhattan and Washington D.C. to the Middle East, from the Basque region in Spain to Ireland, also in India, in some African regions and as well in Chechnya or on the Balkan peninsula. We Germans had to endure organized murderous terrorism, transnationally assisted, from the early 70s onwards, over almost two decades.
Most of all, the various national, transnational and international terrorist activities are differing in their psychological and political origins. They differ in their motivations, but as well in their organization and mode of operation. One therefore needs quite different methods and means to fight terrorists, dependent on the specific circumstances in each case. One can fight Al Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan by military operations. But if for instance one would detect clandestine Al Qaeda-pockets inside other states, the governments of which are not successful in eliminating it, you will be utterly reluctant to interfere from the outside with military means or by warfare. One as well cannot fight the IRA in London by military warfare against Northern Ireland. One could not fight the RAF in Germany by warfare against a country from whose soil they have been assisted.
In other words, because there is no global conformity or homogeneity of terrorism, to defeat terrorism no single general strategy can suffice. There is in particular no general military strategy thinkable, that can hope to defeat all kinds of transnational terrorism.
In the case of Al Qaeda, the catchphrase "war against terrorism" was to be understood as an expression of the decisive will of the American government and nation to use all of its capabilities and power in order to overcome the threat. It was good that many leaders and the media in many other countries did express their solidarity with America and in various ways are cooperating with Washington (including NATO, when it declared the state of commitment to assist their alliance partner the United States). But, most of the members of this so-called anti-terrorist-coalition do not have in mind to participate in military warfare.
I do know from my own experience that a government, which has to fight murderous terrorists, must not lay open its plans, its preparations and all of its current activities, because such openness would offer better calculability to the terrorists and thereby would be self-defeating. But on the other hand, one has to establish a high degree of confidence between oneself and those whose active cooperation is indispensable. Washington did so far not call up NATO, maybe to the dismay of NATO's general secretary and of some military and diplomatic officers. I happen to think that this American restraint was welcome! Because the text of NATO's underlying North Atlantic Treaty does not extend the signatories' obligations into Central Asia.
Having said that, I would add, the political and administrative cooperation of the world powers, China and Russia, of almost all the European states, of many states in Asia and in the Middle East with America and its fight against Al Qaeda is in the world's interest. But this so-called anti-terrorist-coalition will not be maintained forever; it will dwindle the earlier the longer America's further plans remain unclear. To say that as an outsider is not too difficult for myself. But I understand quite well that Washington's situation is indeed very difficult. And I remind this audience of my hypothetical question in the beginning: What would our governments do in case that the attack had not happened in Manhattan and Washington but instead in our own capital? Would our leaders already have arrived on a grand strategy against this monstrous case of terrorism? And how would they be able to succeed?
14) A few weeks ago, I have once again visited the U.S., the East and West coasts. Most of my partners in conversation said "September 11th has changed the world." I don't think this to be correct, but obviously has it deeply changed the perspectives under which the Americans do perceive the world outside. They had been told and did believe their country to be the one and only superpower, but despite all their power, for the first time in their national history, had they to suffer from a violent attack on their own soil.
One cannot disregard the fact that the notion of being the singular superpower did play a political role in America already earlier on, already since quite some time. Some have even talked of the one and "indispensable superpower," which seems to offer unique opportunities and easily facilitates unilateralism. The tendency for unilateralism existed already before the present administration. President George W. Bush has reinforced the impression that America will not care too much about the UN or other institutions of global governance or about the obligations under treaties which the U.S. has ratified or about documents which do bear the American signature.
During the Clinton administration the term "rogue states" had become fashionable. Already then did a new defense agreement with Japan and in 1998 the solemn declaration of a "New NATO" convey the impression that people in Washington were eager to create instruments for policing the globe. At that time one had to consider the possibilities of a new cold war, this time against China, and as well of a geographic extension of the military purpose of the formerly purely defensive Atlantic Alliance.
The recent visits which the American president has paid to various European capitals including Moscow, were intended to assuage other nations' concerns, all of Bush's speeches were well done and also well received. But speeches are one thing, the reality today is: America is tending towards taking foreign political and strategic decisions unilaterally.
History tells us that unilateralism of a great power is by no means a new phenomenon. It also is not new in America; the isolationist Monroe Doctrine, which dominated America's foreign policy during the 19th century, has in a way been a forerunner. The isolationist desire not be bothered by other states and by events outside one's borders is still strong today, in many quarters of America, also in the Congress. After World War I, the nation rejected the League of Nations which had been created in the main by Wilson, who believed in an attitude of liberal and solicitous internationalism. By contrast, this internationalism did prevail after the end of World War II. We do thankfully remember the creation of the UN, the IMF, World Bank, development aid, the Marshall Plan etc., altogether an all embracing, well-meaning and relatively unselfish effort, aiming at a multilateral order of the world.
All these three basic trends, isolationism, internationalism and unilateralism have always co-existed in America, sometimes one of them, at other times another one did prevail. Most people in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe would of course prefer American internationalism or mulitlateralism. They will try to influence America in that direction. My guess is that we will have to live with a considerable degree of American unilateralism for quite a while. But of course, such a situation must not entice other nations to voluntarily instrumentalize themselves.
15) If one looks at the recent engagement between the United States and NATO on the one hand, and Russia on the other, it could appear as if America thereby was extending its strategic influence into the East. Together with new American military presence in some Central Asian states it could irritate the Chinese leadership. Therefore Putin will have to pay cautious and friendly attention to his Chinese neighbors. My impression is that Moscow understands its recent agreements as a medium-term move to gain some strategic alleviation and thereby increase the room for domestic changes. If that assumption is correct, neither China nor India or Pakistan do need to worry.
Over the longer run, I still do expect three world powers: besides the United States, also China and Russia. Perhaps in approaching the middle of this century as well India as No. 4 and possibly also Brazil. It is also thinkable that the European Union by that time has emerged as an operational entity and thereby as a world power.
As regards China, the economic and technological progress over the last 20 years is almost unbelievable. I have first been to China at the time of the horrible cultural revolution and if I compare my impressions in the mid-70s with what I see today, then the achievements appear as almost incredible. If we consider the dignified age of the Chinese civilization, about four millenniums of history, and as well China's weakness and humiliations in the 19th century and until the middle of the 20th century, then the sudden burst of vitality is phenomenal. Of course, China does still have enormous problems inside her borders. The government will have to concentrate on them - which fact in turn makes any kind of Chinese aggression across her borders rather unlikely. (I would like to insert one little side remark here. I think any Japanese fear of China has little rational legitimation. Japanese relations with China - and as well with Korea and other Asian nations - do in my view depend in the main on Japan herself and on how the nation lives up to a realistic evaluation of the imperialist part of Japan's recent history.)
As regards Russia, her domestic economic and social problems, inherited structural, constitutional and cultural problems, are not smaller than those of China. But the enormous territory will, differing from China or India and others, prevent any overpopulation. The modernization of Russia may take one or more generations. It seems though that in recent years there is more progress under way than ever during former decades. Today Russia's importance to the world is not so much a consequence of its military and spacefare and nuclear capabilities but more so of its long borders in Europe and in Asia, its vast territory - 10 or 11 time-zones - and of course the hitherto unexploited riches of minerals and fossil fuel in Siberia.
16) I will at the end of this very personal presentation offer a few thoughts on the peaceful co-existence on our globe between different religions, different civilizations and different ideologies.
Fifteen years ago, upon the initiative of our founder, my friend Takeo Fukuda, a group of high-ranking spiritual leaders from all the major religions of the world and a group of elderly politicians of the InterAction Council met in a place called Civitta Cattolica in Italy. We were able to find consensus on quite a few basic insights, moral, political and socioeconomic truths, as well as on some basic recommendations. From then on, we have jointy been working together, on our way resulting 10 years later in a draft for a Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities. I very clearly remember the thoughtful contributions by our deceased Canadian friend Pierre Trudeau and also by our American special guest Flora Lewis who passed away last Sunday. We have with great interest watched the efforts of Hans Kung and others in persuading personalities of all religions to establish a common or global code of ethics. One has to admit that all such efforts have not as yet reached the agenda of the actual political leaders.
When we were younger, some of us may have read Arnold Toynbee (or even Oswald Spengler's "Decline of the West"); rather recently many of us will have noticed Samuel Huntington's thesis on the "Clash of Civilizations." But it seems to be a fact that only very, very few leaders do know about a religion other than his own and about other religiously molded cultures or civilizations. This is at least true for Christians. I do not know about relations and tensions between Buddhism and Confucianism, or between Hinduism and Islam. But I do have understood that there does exist a considerable, dangerous gap of knowledge and of understanding between Islam and the West as a whole (whether western Christians or just nominal Christians or Jews or non-believers).
Given this western lack of knowledge in regard of the various Islamic civilizations and their different histories, it is easy to mistake the activities of some Islamistic extremists to be typical for the world religion of Islam. At least some important facts ought to be understood. Let me mention three facts:
First: The Quran and Islamic traditions do not distinguish between religious authority and political authority. The same is true of the Thora or the Old Testament, but in the course of more than a milliennium Christians and also Jews have come to accept a rather clear divide between the realm of the church or of the synagogue and on the other hand the realm of the political authority, be it formerly the hereditary emperor or king and nowadays the elected government. By contrast, in many Islamic countries, such a divide is not established as yet; Iran is the outstanding example.
Second, who is to blame in countries that do owe their borders only to the chances of western colonial conquest and do owe their existence as a state not to a long history of evolution but only to the fact that the colonial rule, two or three generations ago, was either voluntarily abandoned or - in most cases - was forced to leave by uprisings. That goes for Indonesia, for India or Pakistan, for Bangladesh, and for most states with Islamic majorities or considerable Islamic minorities. Never before 1945 existed for instance a Libyan or a Pakistani or an Indonesian nation (the same by the way is true for almost all African states of today).
Thirdly, in many states of Arab Islamic population, there does exist an Arab identity but hardly a national one. There are great distinctions between an Islamic state of considerable historical legitimacy (like for example, Iran) and on the other hand a state which is the artificial creation of the victorious European powers who after World War I divided the Ottoman empire between themselves - Iraq is one of those.
At present, more than one billion Muslims are about one fifth or one sixth of mankind. They live in very different states and in areas that stretch from the Indian Ocean and the Pacific to the coasts of the Atlantic. It seems very unwise to me to urge all of them likewise to adopt western political and constitutional convictions and economic and social ideologies. After all the Quran, like the Bible, has in the main revealed and preached commandments and duties, but not basic rights of the individual.
The first democracy in Athens at the time of Perikles was based on slavery. Two thousand years later, the era of enlightenment led to the introduction of democracy, so in England and France, in the United States and in other western countries. But to abandon slavery in most western colonies did take the West even some more time! (For Thomas Jefferson for example, slavery was obviously quite acceptable.) Given this western history, it seems to me that the legitimation of the West to teach other civilizations and to push and thrust and force western basic values upon them is somewhat limited.
17) My conclusion is this: Whilst the global shrinking of space per capita inevitably will go on, whilst the present globalization of information, knowledge and technology will go on, we have to expect growing frictions and growing interdependance almost all over the globe.
Growing interdependance means a growing potential for conflict. But it also means a growing necessity for compromise. I do believe that the conscientious will for compromise and for tolerance becomes much more decisive in the future. That means, nobody is entitled to exclusively pursue his or her rights, claims or interests - anybody does as well have duties and responsibilities vis-a-vis others.
No leadership is legitimate without accountability. Whether one is a leader in a globally operating bank or in an electronic or television network, whether he is spiritually leading masses of religious believers or politically leading the government of a sovereign state: In all cases one's responsibility reaches further out than just the realm of one's corporation and its shareholders or one's church and its believers or one's state and its electorate.
Download the PDF